Editing: Not the Monster I Thought It Was

sunshine and butterfliesWell, I just finished my first round of line edits. And I feared it would be painful, but it wasn’t. Not at all. So far, my editing experience has been relatively good. My manuscript wasn’t all covered up in red, you see, but I think part of it is my attitude toward editing too. Before this process even started, I adopted the attitude that “this is only going to make my book stronger”. Having that approach as I go through this editing process has made everything seem so much easier. In fact, I appreciate my editors more. I appreciate their talent set and their time and input they are giving to my manuscript (yes, I realize they are being paid). But, I know they are not “out to get me”. I truly believe they want to make my book the best it can be. (Cue sunshine and butterflies, right?)

I will not say that this process, though not painFUL, has been pain FREE. It’s not easy to tear up your work, to step back and take an objective look at it and say “I think they have a point, that whole paragraph is redundant and has to be shredded to pieces”. For those of you who have been following me on this journey for a while may remember the pain of the pre-editing part of the process. Whew! Talk about grueling!

But in all of it, I know my book, my art, is still mine. I have had the creative choices and voice through it all. And that is priceless to me. When I wanted to keep something, my editors understood. And I so appreciated that about them and about my publisher…that they allow this to be a reflection of me above all. That they understand that my name goes under the title and so I have to be satisfied with the finished work.

And so, I think as far as getting this book out, I’m on the home stretch. Now, back to marketing…

I’m still learning…

one-does-not-simply-write-a-bookMarketing…marketing…marketing…I spent much of my mid-day learning about it. It was good, don’t get me wrong, as I was sitting under the tutelage of an author I have the utmost respect for. And I was learning more about my craft. Sure it was a part of my craft I never in a million years dreamed I would have to deal with….but I was learning nonetheless. And shouldn’t we be learning new things everyday? I should say so.

At any rate. I am now thinking about a few things: blog tours for the summer and setting goals. Blog tours…I can do this one of two ways: set up my own blog tour (which she says is a LOT of work and not worth the headache when there are services that will do it for you) or pay for one of these services. So, I’ve just spent the better part of the last couple of hours sifting through some of these services. What do they offer? For how much? When? How successful is this person/company? I already have a headache.

And goals…I need to set up a monthly newsletter. I need to be posting on facebook and twitter a few times a day…does this post count as one? And I need to be following some other blogs. These are all good things for me, for my career, for my craft. So, I will bit the bullet and get going on them. I highly suspect that once I start making them a habit, it won’t seem like much. It just sounds like a lot right now because all I want to do is write, write, write!!

So, I leave you with these thoughts as we travel this journey together. Never could I have imagined what this journey would bring. What new skills I would have to learn and add to my “bag of tricks”. But I know that, just as with anything in life you have to work for, I will be all the better for it.

 

On the Trail of Tears

trail of tears photo

A portion of the trail at Port Royal State Park

Today I spent several hours on the original Trail of Tears. Some of the trail was spent in a vehicle, some was spent walking. All of it was spent with a voice recorder in my hand (someone else was driving). It was an amazing experience to see so much of the trail and to actually take the time to walk on part of the trail. For those of you that live in the Springfield/Clarksville/Adams area, there is a pretty good route that goes from South Coopertown Road in Springfield, TN to Port Royal in Adams, TN that will take you down a bit of the original trail. We ended our journey at the Port Royal State Park which has a walking trail on a portion of the original trail. Apparently, Port Royal was not only one of the sites through which the Cherokee walked, it was also one of the places where they stopped overnight.

All day, I kept thinking “so much history, right here beneath my feet…”. I was certainly inspired by what I saw and experienced today, but I am, admittedly seeing it all in the wrong season. The Cherokee were forced to walk this trail during the dead of winter. I was seeing it in the height of spring. And it was beautiful. The trees formed a lovely canopy over the road, a nice spring breeze blew through the car with our windows down, with the fragrances of spring rich in the air. Wildflowers and wildlife accompanied and highlighted our journey. But this would not have been what they experienced. All the Cherokee would have seen would have been bareness and death. The death inherent in the winter of nature, and the death surrounding their people along the way.

trail of tears original routeAll in all, today was an education and I think the book (the work in progress, “Trail of Fears”) will be all the better for it. It was something to just feel, to just be in the places where my characters would have been. To set foot on the places where their feet would have walked. To walk beside the same river and cliff face that they would have looked at on their journey into the unknown. I only hope I can do it…do them justice.

 

Marketing Minefield

marketingHello, all! I am still well in the learning process. But I’m afraid I’m about to be schooled for real. I am doing everything I can to prepare for the monster that is marketing my book, but it still is a bear I will have to wrestle. It’s just not in my bag of tricks. And I don’t honestly think it’s going to be one of my strong suits. I just want to write. (How many times have I said that in this process?)

The truth is that I have many passions: singing, playing the piano, educating people about wildlife and wildplaces (at my seasonal zoo job), drama (the stage kind, and honestly, I have a fair amount of the everyday life kind too), and art. I don’t have the time to exercise all of these passions, and writing has pushed it’s way to the front as the one that takes up most of my time (which I don’t mind one bit). But these other things that come with it – editing, marketing, networking, etc. That stuff is for the birds! I know there are people who do that stuff, love it, and do it well. God bless them! It’s just not me.

So, I’m reading up on what I can regarding marketing your book and building an author platform. A lot of it seems common sense, a lot of it sounds time consuming (read that as “time away from writing”), and all of it sounds laborious (as it’s not sounding like fun to me). But, one of the books I’m reading challenges the reader (me, in this case) to change my perspective – to not think of it as pushing a product, but as providing someone with something they want or need. Perhaps my book will bring some enjoyment into your life. Or help you pass the time pleasantly on your commute or a trip. Maybe it will help you get lost in a new place and time away from your current circumstances for a much needed break. I believe these things about my book. And I hope you will give it a chance to prove itself to you.

Isn’t it so often true about life that a change in perspective can make all the difference?

Three Special Steps…That’s All You Need

oso_hero_areaMy kids have all watched Disney Junior’s Special Agent Oso. I don’t know if your child has enjoyed this particular cartoon, but the main character, Oso, a special agent in training, accomplishes all manner of tasks in “three special steps”. So, as I am in the midst of getting The Lady Bornekova prepared for publication, it seems to me that this journey can fit into “three special steps”.

Step 1: Write your book

First you need an idea, inspiration. A story to tell. Characters. A plot. Then, at some point, you just have to start writing. There are many ways that writers go about writing. Some people use an outline. Some people just get right into it, and write from beginning to end. Some people, like Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone With the Wind) write from the end to the beginning. My husband is a fan of the “Snowflake Method“. I write with a different approach that seems to work for me. I make a list of scenes, some with a historical event attached to them. Then I will go through and fill in the scenes as I feel inspired. So, I might actually finish Chapter 3, for example, before Chapter 1 is completed. But the scenes for Chapter 1 are “ear-marked” already with my listing font/formatting.

Step 2: Get it published

Whoa, there, Sara! That’s actually a lot of steps in one. Well, if you’ve ever watched the show, Special Agent Oso’s Paw Pilot “cheats” this way too. 🙂

Okay, so you have your novel written. I would recommend you thoroughly pre-edit yourself and send it to perhaps three or more beta readers (one at a time) before you query it. So, you’ve done that. Now, you’ve got to write a query letter. I learned a LOT about writing query letters from a literary agent’s (named Query Shark) blog site.

After you’ve queried, comes the waiting. If you get a nibble or a bite, congrats!!! Now onto contracts. I have no particular advice for you here except to say READ IT CAREFULLY (always…for anything you sign) and research anything you don’t understand (again, common sense advice). Writer’s beware!

Now, if you haven’t been faithful with your pre-edits, now comes that hard work. Then comes more edits from an editor (this is where I am – going back and forth with the editor). And more work that I have yet to discover (cover art, proofs, galleys, etc – keep tuned in to my blog and I’ll continue sharing as I am on this journey).

Step 3: Market, market, market

This is a little misleading as a sequential step. As I understand it, marketing your book can begin as early as you’d like. But, perhaps not too much too early. I have very little idea as of yet what will be involved with this step. I know I’ll need to put together a media package. Probably do some sort of blog tour. Set up a writer’s platform (which I’m only beginning to understand what that means). Have a book trailer made. Among other things….Lord, help me! Do I have the stomach for all of that? I’m a writer, for crying out loud!! But I know I cannot, and should not, rely on the publisher to do all of the marketing for my book. A bit of that falls on my shoulders. If you are wise, you will realize this too. This industry is changing, so I keep being told. And we must flex with it.

I’m a Guest on Hannah Conway’s Blog!!!

I have told you all that I’m a part of a Writer’s Group on Wednesday nights. Well, our fearless leader and published author has invited me to be a guest on her blog to talk about my experience with postpartum depression…

His Eye Is On The Sparrow: Postpartum Depression

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father….so do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29, 31
Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come?
Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?
When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me.
I love this song. Maybe because my grandfather sang it often and it’s a fond memory I have of him. But in the midst of my (post partum) depression, this song took on a whole new dimension (meaning) for me. This song proposes that with Jesus as our portion, we shouldn’t feel discouraged and the shadows shouldn’t come over us. You and I know that this is not true; that even with Jesus in our life, depression will come. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous the same (Matthew 5:45). Depressive disorders fall on those who live with Christ in their lives and those who live without Him just the same. It doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t seem fair…but yet it is true. Scripture tells us that this is how it will be.

– See more on Hanna’s blog site